Topic: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – High above Earth, more than 20 miles above sea level, a diaphanous layer of ozone surrounds our planet, absorbing energetic UV rays from the sun.
It is, essentially, sunscreen for planet Earth. Without the ozone layer, we would be bathed in dangerous radiation on a daily basis, with side effects ranging from cataracts to cancer.
People were understandably alarmed, then, in the 1980s when scientists noticed that man made chemicals in the atmosphere were destroying this layer.
NASA’s Cassini Mission has found that Methane Rainfall on Saturn’s moon Titan is being transformed underground lakes
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – The NASA and European Space Agency Cassini mission has revealed hundreds of lakes and seas spread across the north polar region of Saturn’s moon Titan. These lakes are filled not with water but with hydrocarbons, a form of organic compound that is also found naturally on Earth and includes methane.
The vast majority of liquid in Titan’s lakes is thought to be replenished by rainfall from clouds in the moon’s atmosphere. But how liquids move and cycle through Titan’s crust and atmosphere is still relatively unknown.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – A small asteroid, designated 2014 RC, will safely pass very close to Earth on Sunday, September 7th, 2014.
At the time of closest approach, based on current calculations to be about 2:18pm EDT (11:18am PDT / 18:18 UTC), the asteroid will be roughly over New Zealand.
From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about 60 feet (20 meters) in size.
Written by Jessica Eagan
Houston, TX – Riddle: It’s the size of a small microwave, and it may alleviate the need for NASA astronauts to wait for resupply ships to arrive at the International Space Station to get some essential items.
Answer: A 3-D printer — the first ever to be flown to space. And it could change the way NASA does business aboard the space station.
The 3-D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3-D Printing In Zero-G), led out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, provided a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to Made In Space Inc. to build the first 3-D printer for operation in microgravity. It is scheduled to launch to the station aboard the SpaceX-4 resupply mission.
Written by Jessica Nimon
Houston, TX – The green stuff that clouds up fish tanks – it’s not just an aesthetic annoyance. In fact, if you’ve been watching recent news of algal bloom concerns in Lake Erie, you know that the right conditions for algae can lead to contamination of local water sources, potentially impacting aquatic life and humans.
What you might not have known is that among the resources to help study this problem you will find the International Space Station’s Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO).
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA scientists are conducting an airborne survey of earthquake fault displacements in the Napa Valley area of Northern California using a sophisticated radar system developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
A modified C-20A aircraft from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center carrying JPL’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) flew a five-hour data-collection mission on Friday, August 29th, over the area that experienced a major quake during the pre-dawn hours on Sunday, August 24th.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Astronomers have for the first time caught a glimpse of the earliest stages of massive galaxy construction. The building site, dubbed “Sparky,” is a dense galactic core blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate.
The discovery was made possible through combined observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – An increasing frequency of computer resets on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has prompted the rover team to make plans to reformat the rover’s flash memory.
The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two.
Flash memory retains data even when power is off. It is the type used for storing photos and songs on smart phones or digital cameras, among many other uses.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.
Scientists had been regularly tracking the star, called NGC 2547-ID8, when it surged with a huge amount of fresh dust between August 2012 and January 2013.
“We think two big asteroids crashed into each other, creating a huge cloud of grains the size of very fine sand, which are now smashing themselves into smithereens and slowly leaking away from the star,” said lead author and graduate student Huan Meng of the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Once every 50 years, more or less, a massive star explodes somewhere in the Milky Way. The resulting blast is terrifyingly powerful, pumping out more energy in a split second than the sun emits in a million years. At its peak, a supernova can outshine the entire Milky Way.
It seems obvious that you wouldn’t want a supernova exploding near Earth. Yet there is growing evidence that one did—actually, more than one. About 10 million years ago, a nearby cluster of supernovas went off like popcorn. We know because the explosions blew an enormous bubble in the interstellar medium, and we’re inside it.
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